The Merritt was invented by Mortimer George Merritt (1859 - 1941) who began working on it as early as 1888, the year when he applied for its patent. Also in 1888, ads began circulating for the Merritt. It was finally awarded patent no.421,183 in 1889.
The earliest Merritts weren't stamped with their name across the front like the example on this page. This cosmetic change was added shortly after production commenced. All versions produced 78 characters delivered by steel type arranged in a linear upstrike fashion (a.k.a. a blindwriter). Merritts were designed with a double-shift mechanism. Inking was via a pair of rollers. Merritts also had a type alignment system similar to Yosts. They cost $15.
1889 - 1896
Merritt Manufacturing Co.
The Merritt was a fairly successful brand despite being on the market for less than a decade. It's a style of typewriter that does not utilize a keyboard but rather an index. Index typewriters were a popular alternative at the time because their fewer parts made them more affordable and because the keyboard itself was still a fairly new invention that most people hadn't quite mastered. For these reasons it was marketed as "The People's Type-Writer."
Mortimer George Merritt
Merritt typewriters were produced in Springfield, Massachusetts at the Merritt Manufacturing Company which was owned by Mortimer and his brothers Charles E. (1861 - 1889) and Henry W. (1856 - 193?). However, by 1893, at a World's Fair, Mortimer was already "pushing the Densmore typewriter to the front in his usual energetic style." The Densmore was a typewriter brand which was part of the Union Typewriter Company, a trust that Merritt Mfg. was also a part of. Sometime prior to October of 1892 it was Merritt that was contracted to produce the original 10,000 Densmore. Densmore eventually bought the Merritt factory and renamed it the Densmore Typewriter Company. Merritts may have been produced there briefly though there is no direct evidence of how long. Based on old advertisements, the Merritt may have been produced into the mid 1890's.
There were several Merritt typewriter selling agents such as the Lyon Manufacturing Company, Gormully & Jefferey Manufacturing Company, J.A. Spence & Brothers and others both nationally and internationally. None of them, nor produced a single Merritt despite what some ads may claim. They simply sold them.
The more interesting ad that I found for the Merritt dates to 1901. It ran in the Los Angeles Times and was placed by A. Hamburger & Sons, a department store. The seller proclaimed to have had "secured an immense quantity of the celebrated "Merritt" which we offer at about a third their regular prices." The ad mentioned that nearly all were demonstration models and, as such, were of "superior quality." Hamburger & Sons priced its Merritts at $3.98 for examples with a wood case and $4.98 for ones with leather covered wood cases. My favorite tag line from the ad is, "Typewriters for those Who Can Not Afford Typewriters."
Other than Merritts and Densmores, Mortimer G. Merritt also produced typewriter related items for Yost. He invented non-typewriter related items, too. Eventually life's twists and turns led him to Rome, New York where he settled as a landscape architect. Read may more about Mortimer and his eventful life here.
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